Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Night To Remember by Walter Lord

The book that led to the making of the classic movie, A Night to Remember:

Walter Lord's book is well done and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lord wrote his book after interviewing many survivors, crew and relatives of survivors. He studied the Titanic's blueprints, builder's specifications and cargo manifests and also reviewed much of the testimony given at investigations undertaken in London and Washington.
What I liked best about this book is Lord's critical analysis of how class structure in the early 20th century played a part in every aspect of society and in the end determined who would live and die on Titanic,

"And it was the end of the class distinction in filling the boats. The White Star Line always denied anything of the kind - and the investigators back them up- yet there's overwhelming evidence that the steerage took a beating:...."

"...The statistics suggest who they were-the Titanic's casualty list included 4 of 143 First Class Women (three by choice)...15 of 95 Second Class Women... and 81 of 179 Third Class Women....only 23 out of 76 steerage children were saved...."

how prejudices influenced peoples observations:

"With this lost world went some of its prejudices - especially a firm and loudly voiced opinion of the superiority of Anglo-Saxon courage. To the survivors all the stowaways in the lifeboats were "Chinese" or "Japanese"; All who jumped from the deck were "Armenians", "Frenchmen," or "Italians." "

and how the Titanic tragedy changed that and many other things about life and business in the early 20th century.

"Overriding everything else, the Titanic also marked the end of a general feeling of confidence.  Until then men felt they had found the answer to a steady, orderly, civilized life....For 100 years technology had steadily improved.....The Titanic woke them up. Never again would they be quite so sure of themselves....Here was the "unsinkable ship" - perhaps man's greatest engineering achievement - going down the first time it sailed."

I enjoyed watching the movie years ago, long before James Cameron's Titanic hit movie theatres. I still believe A Night To Remember is one of the best movies ever made about the disaster. In the same way, Walter Lord's book is also one of the best I've read on the tragedy.
Readers may want to check a post I wrote a while back about recent investigations into what may have really caused Titanic's demise.

Book Details:
A Night to Remember by Walter Lord
Henry Holt and Company  1955
266 pp.

No comments: